100 Days of Writing: Days 16-21

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Day 16 of #100daysofwriting and I am at the end of Draft 7 of a 6,000 word story. This means in roughly 50 hours I have gone through several drafts, in this one before the edits I have been ruthless pulling out anything that doesn’t add anything to the story. For example, there is a sequence between a prostitute, a punter, a naive gay man and a bear but it didn’t bring anything to the story. We know the prostitute doesn’t want to be sex worker, we can fill in the gaps the types of punters she has from the wives we meet in the story. So, there is no need for what is a graphic sequence only to affirm the idea of family. Neither do I have to dwell on sexuality or pigeon hole in the story, I have a gay character as the protagonist but I have neither portrayed him as male or female, because most people don’t wake up to a world and in their heads go, ‘I’m a wo/man’. This is story about finding family, and though it is a tragedy, we leave the protagonist ready for the world to come and the hotel he hid in gone. Now for the edits. Yes, I know it is long but it was up to 10,000 words at one point. Drafting should be ruthless.

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Day 17 of #100daysofwriting and I am moving through the story now, deleting anything that no longer has a home there. It is about being emotionally distant, to see the story as a whole, I start with 6,490 words after an hour of going through several pages and the word count is down to 5,901 words. 589 words that have no use, that are passive or not part of the tale anymore. I lose a short sequence that took me days to write because the story has moved on, I should mourn them but I know they will go somewhere better. Part of you has to be detached when you do this, to see the wider story, and how some lines jar in the head, stumble on the tongue, should just be shown the door. Just get on with the job. Rather than post up images of me sat in bed, me sat on the sofa, me ruminating over a line, I thought this image sums up sorting out a story. Good old, Sisyphus.

Day 18 of #100daysofwriting and the bear is fighting back in my story.

Day 19 of #100daysofwriting and I am caught between Banarama and The Housemartins. A section of writing, just a line long means I have to see what the top 40 for 19th July, 1986 was. This is when my story is set, so I am not encumbered by the technology that has stripped magic realism/fantasy out of small towns. A bear back then could be anything or anyone, you didn’t need to look it up on Google.

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Day 20 of #100daysofwriting. That moment when you hand over a near finished piece of writing to someone else to read. It’s a lump in your throat, as if sending your child off to school for the first time. You hope they bring joy and happiness to the world, and don’t come back with a letter about what they did. So, between helping to paint a kitchen, watching our son and occasionally editing my bear story, I have finished my tale. 20 days, 65+ hours, 5800 words ready to read, 1000s cut. I may dance in the glade with my characters.

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Day 21 of #100daysofwriting and for another story I am researching how long before star light spins away from us, I’ve even tweeted Brian Cox. I am finishing Jo Baker’s wonderful, Longbourn; mesmerising, heartbreaking and glorious, I recommend anyone who has read Austen to read this. Finishing it, I am struck by what Ray Bradbury said of reading, he was a defender of public libraries just as Dolly Parton has aided many to learn to read. These two very disparate figures have come together in my psyche because reading makes our lives bigger. Reading is fundamental to being a writer.


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